Adobe Creative Suite

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RECOMMENDED

More than the sum of its parts - a truly integrated publishing solution.

After the launch of the latest Acrobat a few months ago, everything went surprisingly quiet on the Adobe front. Now it's clear just what the company was working on with the simultaneous launch of each of its main creative design packages - Photoshop/ImageReady, Illustrator, InDesign and GoLive!

The fact that they've all arrived at once isn't coincidence, but part of Adobe's new publishing strategy. Just as Macromedia has done with Studio and its MX applications, Adobe is determined to leverage the strengths of each of its individual offerings by offering them together in one all-encompassing Creative Suite (CS). Or rather in two alternative suites with the Standard Edition offering the main print-oriented flagships - Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign - and the Professional Edition throwing in the web-oriented GoLive and Acrobat Professional (recommended issue ) for good measure.

It's not just a marketing ploy (though of course the combined price is going to be the single greatest attraction). Over the years Adobe has worked hard to bring each of its applications into line with similar working environments and workflows. Behind the scenes the integration is even tighter with shared technologies for handling colour management, screen display, type handling and so on. The end result is impressive cross-application synergy so that, for example, Illustrator files can be opened into Photoshop with layers, transparency and text intact and vice versa.

The shared Welcome screen is a cosmetic sign of the Creative Suite's deeper underlying integration.

And Adobe takes its integration even further thanks to its central shared file format, PDF. Each of the main creative applications offers rich support for the latest PDF 1.5 format so that you can import and export directly. The all-PDF workflow becomes a real possibility with vector PDFs from Illustrator and bitmap PDFs from Photoshop embedded in a multi-page InDesign PDF and exported for PDF web display or repurposing via GoLive. And of course the workgroup can review and comment on the PDFs involved at any stage of the publishing workflow via Acrobat itself.

Adobe reinforces the Creative Suite's tight integration and shared workflow with a new integrated file management system. As any standalone designer knows, managing the different components and versions of your projects is a major part of the job and with a workgroup the problems multiply tenfold. Adobe's solution is what it calls Version Cue. This technology - optional incidentally - allows you to store all job elements and important versions of your projects in a single workspace via each application's Save dialog. You can then access visual thumbnails of these project files from each application's Open dialog and are warned if other users are working on the same files. You can also search for files based on relevant information such as previous author or keywords embedded with Adobe's new open XMP (eXtensible Metadata Platform) standard.

Version Cue provides integrated file versioning and management.

As the individual reviews show, each of the CS applications is an impressive standalone application and a worthy upgrade in its own right. And the Creative Studio is more than just the sum of its parts. Of course you'll still have to weigh up exactly how the suite would suit your own working practices, but Adobe has been working on this vision of a coherent and integrated creative workflow for many years. With the Creative Studio it's finally become a reality.

Features
6
Ease of Use
4
Value for Money
6
Overall
5

ratings out of 6

Creative Suite
Software / Upgrade
Save $$!   Save ££!
Books / Reference
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System Requirements: Pentium II or higher, 128MB of RAM, 105MB of disk space, Windows 98, ME, 2000 (SP2), NT 4 (SP 6), XP, CD-ROM, 1024x768 display.

Tom Arah

Nov 2003

Full Photoshop CS2 review
Full Illustrator CS2 review
Full InDesign CS2 review
Full GoLive CS2 review
Full Acrobat Professional 7 review
Full Creative Suite 2 review


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